Szafnauer counters scathing criticism from Alpine CEO Rossi
By Ian Parkes
Wednesday 10th May, 2023 - 12:05am
Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi has made it abundantly clear his team’s performances this year are wholly unacceptable, with boss Otmar Szafnauer seemingly under threat.
Over the Miami Grand Prix weekend, Rossi delivered a condemnatory interview to Canal+, expressing bitterness with the performances from drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, and the team overall.
“It’s disappointing, it’s actually bad,” he said. “This year ended up starting with a flawed performance and flawed delivery.
“It’s obvious our position in the standings is not worthy of the resources we spend, and we are quite far – in fact very far – from this year’s end goal.
“I’m noting not only an obvious lack of performance and rigour in the delivery, but also potentially a state of mind that is not up to this team’s past standards.”
Undoubtedly suggesting the team is mentally not up to the task, Rossi waded in further.
“I did not like the first grand prix (in Bahrain), because there was a lot of – I’m sorry for saying this – amateurishness, which led to a result that wasn’t right,” fumed Rossi. “It was mediocre, bad.
“Baku (Azerbaijan GP) was tremendously similar to the one in Bahrain. That is not acceptable.”
The buck stops with Szafnauer – Rossi
In a separate interview with Formula1.com over the weekend, Rossi went so far as to to suggest that Szafnauer was firmly in the firing line if results failed to improve.
“He is responsible for the performance of the team,” said Rossi. “That’s his job. There is no hiding here.
“Otmar was brought in to steer the team through the season and the next seasons towards the objectives that we have, which is to constantly make progress, as we did in the first two years – fifth and fourth – and to get to the podiums.
“This is his mission to turn this team around and bring it to the performance that we want.
“We had a team that performed reasonably well last year, got the fourth position, which is the best improvement we had in a long time. It showed a lot of promise.
“It’s more or less the same people, so I don’t accept that we are not capable of maintaining that.
“Yes, it is Otmar and the rest of his team as Otmar alone doesn’t do everything, but the buck stops with Otmar. It’s Otmar’s responsibility, yes.”
Speaking post-race after Gasly and Ocon at least scored points by finishing eighth and ninth, Szafnauer referenced the fact he was aware of the comments to Canal+ at the time but had yet to read them.
As far as he is concerned, however, Rossi is applying no more pressure than has previously been the case.
“Reading something like that on paper puts no more pressure (on us),” he said.
“Everyone wants to do well here. We’re very well experienced, with technicians and engineers at the highest level, and we put pressure on ourselves. So, we just have to fix it.”
Reflecting on his team’s performances this season, Szafnauer added: “We underperformed in Baku; the drivers ran into each other in Australia, and I think at the first race, we had a myriad of penalties, starting with Esteban being out of place.
“It hasn’t been a smooth start to the season and maybe that’s why he (Rossi) made the comments. But I have to read them.”
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